I heard the clank of the crash before the clamor of her wail.
Following the of sobs to my daughter’s bedroom, I found her sitting in a spray of tiny plastic bricks.
“My plans are ruined,” my 8-year-old whimpered.
“What happened?” I asked.
“I was building a castle,” she explained. “But when I reached over to put the princess in the watchtower, I bumped the roof with my elbow, and the whole thing came tumbling down.”
I felt the ache of my daughter’s disappointment as I gazed at those bricks splattered like rainbow polka dots across the floor. But there was nothing I could say to fix her frustration, so I just pulled her onto my lap, and we sat there together in the middle of the mess.
When her sobs finally gave way to quiet sighs, I began to sift through the pieces of the capsized creation. I gathered tiny pink doors and wee plastic windows, tall slender spires and boxy blue bricks. Then, I slowly began to rebuild.
My girl lifted her head and watched me work. Her frown flipped upside down, and she flashed me an expectant grin.
“Mom, thanks for making something marvelous out of this mess,” she declared.
The blob of blocks I was fastening together didn’t look like a pristine palace or a fabulous fortress. In fact, it didn’t resemble anything marvelous yet. But my daughter’s eyes sparkled with confidence.
“How do you know what I’m making?” I prodded with a playful wink.
Oh, I have no idea what you’re making,” my girl admitted with a carefree shrug. “But I know you …”
Her words dangled in the air between us. And my heart lurched with quiet conviction. My daughter’s gratitude wasn’t based on what she could see; it was rooted in who she knew me to be.
Perhaps this is the kind of gratitude Paul had in mind when he penned those challenging words in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 — “In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
It’s worth noting Paul doesn’t instruct us to give thanks to God for every circumstance. Instead, he urges us to give thanks to God in every circumstance. Paul’s words remind us that gratitude isn’t anchored in ease; it’s anchored in intimacy. The more we know God, the more reasons we have to thank him.
Gratitude may not be our first response when our circumstances are challenging or disappointing. But when we focus on who God is rather than on what he is doing, we discover that we can give thanks even from the middle of our mess. We can thank him for his wisdom even when we don’t see the reason for his ways. We can thank him for his faithfulness even when our faith is faltering. We can thank him for his peace even when our doubts are raging.
As we become familiar with the bent of God’s heart, we learn to trust the work of his hands, even before his work is finished.
Wherever you are in life right now, be certain in this: God is with you. And he is for you. And he’s doing more than your eyes can see. Because if I know our Savior, he’s making something marvelous even in the middle of a mess.
Dear Jesus, You are worthy of my praise even when I don’t understand your ways. Turn my gaze from my frustrations to your faithfulness. Shift my sights from my hurt to your hope. And grow in me a heart of thanksgiving as I seek to know you more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Written by Alicia Bruxvoort and published by Proverbs 31 Ministries.
At First Lutheran, we are a community of disciples of Jesus Christ working for the transformation of the world. Throughout our history, we have remained committed to drawing on our Lutheran (ELCA) tradition of using meaningful worship, content-rich learning and warm hospitality to care well for our congregation, the surrounding community and the world.